“From Away”: FAA Residency

In July I’ll be participating in the Fredericton Arts Alliance Artist in Residence Program. This year’s residents have been asked to address the theme “New Ground,” to explore notions of place and home. These are frequent concerns in my work, but being new to Fredericton, this theme is especially resonant for me at the moment, and I look forward to concentrating on them during my residency.

I’ve decided to spend my residency exploring the phrase “come from away,” which is used by Maritimers to describe newcomers from other places — “newcomers” being a relative term; it may take generations to lose the “come from away” origin label. Being a “CFA” myself, I want to better understand what this phrase means: Where is the boundary between “here” and “away”? How long must one live in the Maritimes to be from “here”? Is there anything people who are “from away” have in common? What are the characteristics that separate Maritimers (or New Brunswickers, or Frederictonians) from we others? During my residency, I’ll invite visitors to teach me about their conceptions of place and home, and I’ll then use their input to develop new poems. I’m excited to learn and to work. (I’m also excited to share the residency space with New Brunswick textile artist and sculptor Allison Green!)

If you’ll be in Fredericton July 25-29, please come visit us at the Soldier’s Barracks, off Queen Street. If you’d like to contribute your ideas about what it means to be “from away,” feel free to visit my residency page and add your comments anytime.

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One thought on ““From Away”: FAA Residency

  1. When you were a Vermonter, I’m sure you heard people talking about others that were “from away”, sometimes known as flatlanders and folk from downcountry.
    I think one marker of who’s “from away” is what they call local flora. E.g., A trillium in the woods next to my house is called “Bloody Nose” by my neighbors, and also was known as “Stinking Benjamin”.
    And when the excavating contractor dug the hole for my house, he described something that was either smooth or good as being “slick as a trout”. Neither of these expressions were, for me (one “from away”), something I knew – – as I had not known until I’d lived in Vermont full time for a decade that “frosted” meant angered.
    Then, the really valuable phrases or folk knowledge that slips away over generations also defines who’s “from away” and who’s grown up in the neighborhood – the expressions or common knowledge (turkeys had a late clutch of eggs last year because they won’t lay when it rains and we had hard Spring rains; or “YOU KNOW how, when a calf loses its mother, you need to cover its eyes when you give it the nipple bucket?”) that are just transmitted off-hand as “obvious” “everybody knows that” kinds of facts.

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